Cover image of Symbolism, "Metamorphosis"

Symbolism, "Metamorphosis"

by Reuben Lindsey

  • Release Date: February 12, 2019
  • Age Levels: Grade 12
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Group Analysis

Evaluating Symbols: Below is a list of SYMBOLS used in Metamorphosis. To review, a symbol is a person or thing in a story that represents a larger idea. For example, a symbol in Macbeth is blood, which represents that passion that consumes so many of the characters, to their downfall. Look at this sample table to see how to breakdown symbols.

  • Story: Macbeth
  • Symbol: Blood
  • Elements of Symbol: Red, Life force, result of violence
  • Purpose in Story: connects to character’s passions – Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s desire for power; Macduff’s desire to protect his country; Passion is downfall for all them (Lady kills self trying to get blood off of her, Macbeth gets killed for all the blood he spills, Macduff’s family gets killed – their blood is spilled – because of his passion for his country and need to protect it)

YOUR JOB: For FIVE of the symbols listed below, make a chart like the one above explaining what the purpose of the symbol is in the story.

  • The number three, Light/Darkness, Changing Seasons, The Bug, The picture in Gregor’s room, Uniform, Apples

Discussion Questions. Answer each question in paragraph, using complete sentences. Start with a TOPIC SENTENCE that states what you will prove in the paragraph, then explain and prove it.

  • Mr. Samsa sometimes remarks, “This is a life. This is the peace and quiet of my old age.” Why is he so happy?
  • “Gregor was now eating hardly anything.” Is Gregor’s absolute refusal to eat his way of passively withdrawing from life and the world? Or is this a form of self-imposed punishment for all the terrible hardships he has placed on his family? Use OTHER quotes from the story and/or events from the story to support your choice.
  • When Kafka read the story to his circle of companions in Prague, they laughed out loud--as did he. Why? What is the humor in the story? Cite at least 3 examples.
  • What do you think is the THEME of this story? Get one of the silver literature books and look up the definition of theme if you need to, or look back to the worksheets on A Doll’s House. Support your choice with evidence from the story.


This worksheet encourages students to analyze the use of symbolism in Kafka's "Metamorphosis". It is designed to be a cooperative learning activity, but it can be done as independent work.

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